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Poor pay will scupper new GP minor surgery target

GPs have denounced a new Government target for practices to carry out up to 285,000 more operations in the next three years.

GPC members said continuing acute GP shortages and derisory funding for minor surgery as an enhanced service meant GPs either could not or would not do the work.

Under the Department of Health plan announced last week, the extra operations would be split between GP surgeries and outpatient clinics. A spokesman said local negotiations would be held to agree how many cases GPs would be expected to handle.

The shift is aimed at covering a 17 per cent rise in NHS non-urgent operations by 2006, as predicted by the 28 strategic health authorities in their local development plans for the next three years.

Dr Julian Neal, chair of the GPC primary care development sub-committee, said much of the funding for the minor surgery enhanced service had already been spent by PCTs and would not tempt GPs to do the work.

'I am very sceptical that enhanced services will be successful,' he said.

'Almost three-quarters of the £350 million is already in the system. If the funding can be found there is nothing

to stop GPs with special

interests from doing it, but if the money can't be found I would advise GPs not to take part.'

Under contract proposals, GPs would be paid between £150 and £350 for a session of minor surgery as a directed enhanced service.

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said he doubted trusts would shift money from secondary care to fund the work. 'The bottom line is, no new work with no money,' he added.

Dr Rob Barnett, a member of the GPC primary care development sub-committee and secretary of Liverpool LMC, said the department needed to clarify which procedures could be safely undertaken by GPs. He added: 'When we get the civil servants opting to have these procedures done on themselves in the community we will know it's safe.'

The department pledged 100 new diagnostic and treatment centres would be open by 2006 to handle some of the operations.

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